Kingston, June 22: After an exciting second day, the first Test in India's ongoing tour of the Windies is shaping up well and turning into a keen contest. It is still early days to predict a result in the match, but the Indian bowlers gave their side a definite fillip in a bid to surge ahead to a possible victory. Indeed, the entire attack bowled in cohesion in order to keep the Windies at bay.
On Day 1, the hosts had done quite a bit of the groundwork in their reply to India's 246. Opener Adrian Barath and Ramnaresh Sarwan played cautiously to see off the new ball, notching up just 34/1 in 20 whole overs. But India wrested control right from the get-go on the morning of Day 2. Ishant Sharma whose star seems to be fading in Tests, regained his mojo straight up by trapping Sarwan in front with a beautifully executed in-swinger.
In fact, Sharma hit upon an immaculately disciplined line and length, craftily mixing up bouncers with good-length deliveries. He was displaying weapons in his armory that had remained dormant for the longest time. In so doing, he clearly unsettled a struggling Darren Bravo who was fortunate to get away with a drop at third slip and a loud shout for caught behind.
After Ishant softened the batsman up, it was Praveen Kumar that dealt the knock-out biff when he had Bravo caught behind for a tell-tale 18 off 56 balls. However, Kumar wound up having a day of mixed luck. He may have been in the right zone where his bowling was concerned, but his left foot during his follow-through, kept landing in the wrong zone. Ultimately he paid the penalty for not heeding the umpire's warnings and was barred from bowling further in the innings.
However, by that time, he had already left a legacy of destruction in his wake, having dealt three vital blows. His back-of-length pitched outswingers bamboozled the batsmen to such an extent that they tentatively poked at the fatal deliveries which carried either to the keeper or the slips. He had thus opened up the way to the spinners to polish of the latter-order and the tail.
Harbhajan Singh who had already played his part with the bat by scoring a crucial 70 in India's first innings, tasted success with the ball as well. He got drift and turn routinely, which brought the close-in fielders into play on two occasions. Thus, Carlton Baugh and Shivnarine Chanderpaul ended up his victims. Then leg-break Mishra who had toiled so long without impact, wrapped up the Windies' innings with two tail-ender wickets in one over.
The India bowlers had therefore, clearly put their side on top. Now it is upto India's middle order to weather the storm and take India to an imposing total on Day 3. A clearer picture of whether this match is indeed heading India's way is soon to be known...